Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Vancouver Dance History (2006-2016): Post 25

Today Bevin Poole was in the house--or, rather, my office. Her dance history started in Williams Lake, where she grew up taking ballet and "70s-style jazz" (her words) classes in a pretty informal and "super-recreational" setting. So relaxed was the attitude, Bevin suggested, that you were actually discouraged from doing things too well. So it was a big learning curve for Bevin when she followed her sister to SFU to study in the dance program here at the School for the Contemporary Arts.

As Bevin put it, she had a hard time not just because her training to that point had been less rigorous (for her a battement was just a high kick), but also because she had an attitude problem. Now, knowing Bevin to be one of the more open and easy-going dancers in the community, this news came as quite a surprise. But Bevin confirmed that she was initially quite combative with her teachers--now my colleagues--at SFU. It was only when she did a fourth-year directed studies apprenticeship with Day Helesic at MoveEnt and saw how open and collaborative dancers like Amber Funk Barton and Farley Johansson and Shauna Elton were that she understood what it meant to be part of a process: to listen and be receptive as opposed to always being resistant and questioning.

This served her well as she launched her professional career post-graduation in 2007, first working with my colleague Judith Garay's company Dancers Dancing (as so many dancers in the community, I'm discovering, have over the past 20+ years). From there, she moved on to collaborations with Alvin Erasga (on Shadow Machine), James Gnam and plastic orchid factory (with whom she has been working since the premiere of _post), Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg (the first person to seek Bevin out to be in a show, in this case Highgate), Vanessa Goodman, Helen Walkley, Nicole Mion, and MACHiNENOiSY, among others.

More recently, Bevin has begun exploring her own choreography, developing her first solo as part of the most recent iteration of 12 Minutes Max at The Dance Centre. Challenging herself to think about what questions are in her body that she has not yet had a chance to explore in other people's processes, Bevin chose to engage in a rich exploration of slowness as a movement epistemology. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see that piece, but she received great feedback, and is eager to continue her choreographic explorations, including working with other dancers.

Most immediately, however, Bevin and her husband are preparing for the birth of their first child, who is due to arrive at the end of this month. It's amazing to me that Bevin was dancing up until just yesterday (in a music video for Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg). And also that she'll be dancing again in April, when Tara's How to Be premieres at the Cultch.

But then dancers are amazing people, and none more so than folks like Bevin who have agreed to be interviewed as part of this project.


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